Faraday plant will survive on limited groundwater — for now

When state lawmakers convene later this month to consider an incentive package for Faraday Future, they won’t be asked to find $150 million for a water pipeline to the factory site.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said Thursday a pipeline from the Las Vegas Valley wasn’t included in the deal because there is more than enough groundwater under the Apex industrial park to supply the $1 billion electric car plant.

The 3 million-square-foot manufacturing facility is expected to need up to 640 acre-feet of water annually. That’s roughly the same amount used each year by 1,280 average valley homes.

Some water also will be needed during construction, which could begin as early as next month if the lawmakers sign off on the state’s deal with Faraday.

Dag Reckhorn, vice president of global manufacturing for the company, promised a plant that will be “environmentally friendly and technologically advanced.”

North Las Vegas Assistant City Manager Ryann Juden said there is 3,000 acre-feet of groundwater available for the entire industrial park, including some water rights the city leases from the Southern Nevada Water Authority to supply the park and its tenants.

How long existing groundwater can sustain Faraday and other follow-on enterprises depends on a host of factors, including how thirsty those industries are and how effectively water can be reused on site or returned to the aquifer.

Nevada’s top water regulator has made it clear that the basin surrounding Apex is already tapped out.

In 2014, State Engineer Jason King rejected 16 applications for new water rights in the basin, saying it could not sustain any more groundwater pumping beyond the 3,365 acre-feet already appropriated.

Eventually, Sandoval said, it makes sense to build a pipeline and pumping station to deliver municipal water from the Las Vegas Valley to the 20,000-acre industrial park, which has been annexed into the North Las Vegas city limits.

When and how the pipeline is built and paid for is likely to be “the subject of some intense discussions” in the future, said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the wholesale water supplier for North Las Vegas and the rest of the Las Vegas Valley.

In the meantime, immediate infrastructure needs must be addressed for the Faraday site, including municipal water and wastewater services.

Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said the Legislature will be asked to modify a tax increment law so bonds can be sold to pay for that and other infrastructure.

Sandoval said current landowners at the industrial park will be expected to chip in for the cost of the wastewater system improvements, which should also benefit them. That way, he said, “the landowners have some skin in the game.”

The 15 companies now operating at Apex use septic systems to dispose of their effluent, according to Lisa Cole, vice president of Land Development Associates, the firm that manages the industrial park.

Juden said some of the wastewater from the site could be treated and reused by other tenants at the industrial park.

Details of the infrastructure arrangements are expected to be spelled out in one of several bills that will be introduced during the special legislative session Sandoval will soon call to ratify the Faraday deal.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Find him on Twitter: @RefriedBrean

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